I highly recommend this book, which I consider to be a tour de force, exploring all aspects of humanity's life-or-death dilemmas today, as well as the evolutionary and social history that brought us to this point, and our prospects for a Great Turning. Lipton offers his understanding of biology, neuroscience, and their effects on behavior, while Bhaerman (a.k.a. Swami Beyondananda) contributes his perspectives on social structure, politics, and economics, as well as his comic sense of word play.
Every now and then while reading, I had to set the book down and let my mind reverberate with the implications of what I d just read. Sometimes, those reverberations were difficult to put into words, but I can almost tangibly feel them working in my subconscious. In writing this short review, I needed to keep re-reading key passages, because the information is so mind-blowing, it's a bit hard to retain! The old paradigms and assumptions keep reasserting themselves. And the book explains why this happens, how belief shapes so many aspects of our lives. The battle we face now is not against some external king, but rather against our own internal conscious and unconscious limitations, against our distorted misperception of human nature and human potential (p. 65)
The authors discuss in depth four key myth-perceptions of the Apocalypse : Only Matter Matters, Survival of the Fittest, It's in Your Genes, and Evolution is Random (pp. 85-204). I found that I already know that these ain t necessarily so, but because such beliefs are widely held in our society, they no doubt influence me. I often wondered, Do people really believe these things? but then I see the effects in the world around me especially in the greedy behavior of corporations I discussed above.
Lipton and Bhaerman explore how belief shapes our lives on a cellular, even genetic level it's really amazing! They explain how the new science of epigenetics is transforming biomedical science, with the discovery that environmental signals control gene activity (p. 132). And these environmental signals, in turn, come from a whole complex of neurological/biochemical/physiological responses to guess what! beliefs held in the mind and their correlates in the nervous system and brain. The description of all these interactions doesn t seem the slightest bit reductionistic to me; on the contrary, I find the whole business rather spiritual, demonstrating the Intelligence at work in all life.
One concept that probably blew my mind more than any other in this book arises out of the insights of fractal geometry applied to cellular biology. Quite a leap, huh? It has to do, among other things, with the surface area of cell membranes, and the perception proteins that form a monolayer in the membrane. I really can t find any way to summarize this concept, so I can only suggest you read pages 228-229 for just one example of the authors ability to bring apparently disparate branches of knowledge together into a paradigm-shifting gestalt.
Early in the book, Lipton and Bhaerman declare, Becoming conscious of our subconscious beliefs and programming is the gateway to spontaneous evolution. This book certainly helped me in that direction, and leaves me with a well-grounded hope that the Intelligence that got us this far can prevail, especially if we humans take responsibility for our belief systems and their effects on our own lives and the living systems of Earth. The authors suggest that we embrace our power with all due humility, reminding us that everything we do individually to become more coherent and compassionate will reverberate in the field like ripples on a pond. Like begats like. As you sow, so shall you reap.
Read the book for some refreshing evidence of our capacity to evolve and transform individually and collectively, and some indicators of how we can more actively do so.
- Molly Young Brown